After arguing with Ari Aster about the length of his latest film (three or four hours? Two and a half?), A24 has decided to release the anxious, mondo bizarro, wimpy-sounding Beau Is Afraid on 4.21.23. I’m sorry but this WTF pre-Cannes release date tells us damn near everything.
It tells us first and foremost that Beau Is Afraid is a problem film. Obviously. No distributor releases an epic-lengthed, major-league auteur film in late-April unless they’re totally confused and off-balance and scared shitless about what it is or how to sell it.
If A24 had any balls they would open Beau Is An Old, Terrified, Mommy-Traumatized Candy-Ass on the Cote d’Azur, but no — they’re too chickenshit! Afraid of what the international critical community (especially the Brits) might say!
Aster wanted to release a four-hour version, remember. Imagine watching a four-fucking-hour version of this trailer. You know Beau is going to be a slog….you know it.
It would be one thing if this surreal, memory-injected old man’s psychological horror film was 110 or 120 minutes, but you know that at 179 minutes Hollywood Elsewhere is going to be flailing around on the floor and howling and hyperventilating and possibly shrieking. David Ehrlich will probably call Beau is Afraid a perverse masterpiece but he’ll bend over for almost anything nervy or provocative. Amy Ryan will probably receive the NYFC’s Best Supporting Actress trophy.
It’s either Ari Aster‘s Synecdoche (a tip of the hat to World of Reel‘s Jordan Ruimy for coming up with this brilliant analogy) or an angry, terrified old man’s Wizard of Oz saga, complete with a wicked-ass witch (his own mom, played by Amy Ryan). Every character in this film (except for the kid version of Joaquin) is some kind of smooth ghoulish predator.
Beau Is Afraid (formerly Disappointment Blvd.) is probably going to have its big debut at South by Southwest, a festival that is committed before-the-fact to giving a warm, giddy embrace to any oddball film that premieres there. I’m not kidding about that alternate title: Beau Is An Old, Terrified, Mommy-Traumatized Candy-Ass. HE to A24: Seriously, give this some thought.
Initial texted comments: “So Phoenix is wearing balding, old-fart, liver-spots makeup throughout the whole thing? What happened to Beau being some kind of dynamic entrepeneur or whatever? Now we know why A24 was unhappy with the length.”
At one point Aster described Beau is Afraid on the IMDB page as “a sickly, domestic melodrama in the vein of Douglas Sirk.” That settles it — Glenn Kenny and Richard Brody are going to do cartwheels in the lobby. These two are Maynard G. Krebs in reverse. When Maynard heard the “w” word, he went “work!” When Kenny and Brody hear the name of Hollywood’s most celebrated German-born director of lavish ’50s soap operas, they go “Sirk!” except they mean it lovingly.
Posted on 3.24.22: According to a 6.1.20 article in the Daily Nexus (the paper of the University of California Santa Barbara), hotshot elevated horror helmer Ari Aster (Midsommar, Hereditary) offered a brief description of his next film. It was in the script stage back then but is now completed, I’ve read, and titled Disappointment Blvd..
Aster: “All I know is that it’s gonna be four hours long, and [span] 17 years.” Aster has also also called it a “nightmare comedy” or “horror comedy” or words to that effect.
The presumably deceptive logline describes Disappointment Blvd. as “an intimate, decades-spanning portrait of one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time.” being played by Joaquin Phoenix.
For most of us, the words “starring Joaquin Phoenix” means a film about some kind of obsessive, extreme psychology or behavior…something intriguingly weird and a bit wackazoid. Phoenix used to have the ability to play normal guys but that’s gone — he’s almost a Nic Cage-like figure in the sense of being consumed by his own persona.
Disappointment Blvd.-wise, the odds strongly favor that Phoenix will play a guy who’s so internal and ultra-sensitive that he’s become paranoid and removed from the Average Joe community…this is who Joaquin is, what he’s become…a guy who plays alien locoweeds.
I’m mentioning Disappointment Blvd. because yesterday World of Reel‘s Jordan Ruimy reported that Aster’s film is (a) “ready” and (b) “now a possibility for Cannes Film Festival competition.” If this happens, great — you know it’ll be an insane film that everyone will have fun with, and that Phoenix (if and when the film appears) will be a prime contender for the festival’s Best Actor award. Let’s just hope that Aster has somehow whittled Disappointment Blvd. down to three hours instead of four. Or better yet, two and a half. hours.
A little less than a year ago I posted the following about Disappointment Blvd:
“The original title was allegedly Beau is Afraid, and apparently grew out of Aster’s 2011 short film, Beau. The decade-old short has been described as a “surrealist horror film set in an alternate present [about] an “extremely anxious man who never knew his father, and has a fraught relationship with his overbearing mother.”
IMDB Beau logline: “A neurotic middle-aged man’s trip back home is delayed indefinitely when his keys are mysteriously taken from his door. He is subsequently haunted by an increasingly sinister chain of upsetting events.”
On the film’s IMDB page Aster describes it as “a sickly, domestic melodrama in the vein of Douglas Sirk” — a description sure to be welcomed by Sirk-worshipping snob critics the world over.